Fire that killed Asheville firefighter at medical office building was arson

ASHEVILLE, N.C. -- A fire in a medical building that killed an Asheville fire captain last Thursday was deliberately set, according to investigators.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, along with criminal investigators from the Asheville fire and police departments and the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation, determined that the fire was an arson, according to a release from the ATF.

Capt. Jeffrey Bowen, a 13-year veteran of the Asheville Fire Department, succumbed to intense heat and smoke and was taken to Mission Hospital, where he later died of a cardiac arrest. Bowen, 37, is survived by a wife and three children.

More than 60 firefighters responded to the fire at Biltmore Center, located at 445 Biltmore Ave.

Another firefighter, Jay Bettencourt, was taken to Mission Hospital and then transferred to the Augusta Burn Center, where he was treated and released.

Eleven firefighters, including the captain who died, were treated at Mission Hospital, Merrell Gregory, spokeswoman for Mission Hospital, said.

The fire did more than $20 million in damage to the building.

Anyone with information about this crime is asked to call:

  • ATF Arson Hotline at 888-ATF FIRE or 888-283-8477
  • Asheville Police Department Crime Stoppers at 828-255-5050
  • NC State Bureau of Investigation at 800-334-3000
  • Callers can remain anonymous.

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